Filippo Fusco had his eye on the Los Olivos Shopping Center for more than a decade before he and his wife, Sho, opened Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana there in 2016.
The stylish restaurant has since built a loyal following, and it’s no surprise. Its food is authentic Italiano.
In fact, Angelina’s is one of only 97 restaurants in America that serves pizza with the Italian government-sanctioned VPN seal, which means it has met “strict requirements that respect the tradition of the art of Neapolitan pizza making.”
Both the tomatoes and flour used to make the pizza dough at Angelina’s are flown in from Naples, Italy. The buffalo di mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and ricotta are flown from a cheesemonger outside Naples. Employees pick up the items from customs at LAX twice a week.
And then there’s Filippo himself, who was born in a village near Naples. He spent his later childhood years in London and Washington, D.C., before heading west in the ’70s.
His wife, Sho, grew up in Iran and moved to America at the age of 10.
The couple are self-described foodies who go back to Italy two to three times a year.
“The reason I opened this is to share my passion for culture through food,” Filippo says.
All of the 70 wines Angelina’s serves are from various regions of Italy. You can also order from 20 Italian digestive bitters and 15 grappas. About a quarter of the staff is Italian too. The head chef is from Sardinia. The pastry chef is from Genoa.
“You’ve got to maintain the DNA,” Filippo says. “You have to have someone who is the guiding palate. They need to be from Italy and understand the cuisine.”
Even the wood-burning ovens are from Italy.
“That’s $50,000 worth of ovens right there,” Filippo says.
It’s authenticity you can taste.
THIS PIZZA WAS BORN IN NAPLES
Tomatoes were first brought to Europe through the seaport in Naples, Italy, in the 16th century. Crushed and spread on traditional flatbread, they quickly became a favorite of mariners (la marinara), giving rise to the name marinara sauce. When topped with fresh basil, mozzarella cheese and olive oil, the pizza was born. In 1889, it gained the name Neapolitan (for Naples) pizza after a visit by Queen Margherita of Savoy when she was presented a pizza whose colors mirrored those of the Italian flag: red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella) and green (basil leaves).